Famous Personal Injury Cases That Shaped Legal History


If we look at the legal history, personal injury law has evolved a lot. It has grown a lot and has revolutionized in a way that has captured the public’s attention.

Personal injury law focuses on getting justice to the people who have been a part of something wrong and might have suffered physical harm, psychological suffering, or even death.

With changes in technology and innovations in the legal industries, there has been a shift in the legalities of things. But with that, there have been new challenges and hurdles that are being seen in the legal game of things.    

A personal injury lawyer in Houston however can make it a lot easier for you to navigate through the whole process.

How Old Cases Impact the New Ones?

Some of the cases in the past due their complexity, magnitude, and emotional impact have left a very big impact on legal history. The famous cases have also been a part of the media and have served a number of purposes besides just providing justice to the injured party.

By challenging the new ways of sorting the legal matters, some of the original legal cases do impact the new ways of dealing with the legal processes.

As far as the lawyers are concerned, these cases work as references for them to come up with arguments. And for the public, these cases come with lessons of responsibilities, rights, and justice.

The Tobacco Litigation

The tobacco industry has been known for its mighty lobby that is very hard to break. However, this was the case just until the 20th century. Several legal events happened that revealed the pathetic health effects of the tobacco industry on the lives of people. It also revealed how “big tobacco” succeeded in deceiving the public.

The Big Tobacco Deception

For a good number of years, the tobacco industry kept us researching the effects of cigarettes on the body. Even when they knew how bad smoking was for the body, they still did not mention if there was an actual link between smoking and lung cancer or tHe effects that smoking leaves on the heart.

A landmark master settlement agreement was signed in 1998. This was signed between the tobacco companies and a total of 46 states of the United States. This is still considered to be one of the biggest turning points.

The company here agreed to pay billions of dollars to the states and will introduce the state with some restrictions related to advertising smoking commercials. So, all of the cool commercials that made smoking look really cool were banned, and only a restricted amount of commercials were allowed to be on air.

The MSA also made sure that there was a visible warning on the cigarette boxes that could warn people of the hazards that the cigarettes carry. 

So, there were a number of health awareness programs then conducted, and a lot of anti-smoking campaigns were run after the financial compensation was made. But the legal side of things did make everyone familiar with the double-faced attitude of the smoking companies. 

The McDonald’s Case

This is one of the famous coffee cases of McDonald’s that is still remembered to this date. In this case, a woman in Mexico named Stella ordered a cup of coffee from the drive-thru. When she was about to drink the coffee, she spilled the coffee on herself and had some really bad third-degree burns. Now, these burns did make her go through a number of procedures to fix her skin.

Now, it was further seen that the coffee McDonalds served the lady was extremely hot and was not the temperature at which the coffee is usually served. It revealed that the coffee was being served at 190 degrees Fahrenheit, which can easily cause third-degree burns.

Now this case did poke the product liability laws and the consumer safety-related laws.

  • It was made sure after this case that the companies will pay more attention to the product safety before it is served to the customers.
  • This case also was able to raise customer awareness related to product safety and the need for clear and precise warnings.
  • Mcdonalds did manage to pay a good amount to Stella for suffering. The amount wasn’t disclosed to anyone. Also, this was all done before the punitive damages were finalized.


Some of the past famous personal injury cases that are still known do serve as references to the attorneys to make their cases strong even today. So, it is not wrong to say that whether the laws have changed and have been through a number of amendments, they still cannot match these few cases that made their way to the public because of how big of an impact they had. 

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